A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has faulted the N6.9 billion, representing 0.44 per cent, allocated to agriculture in the N157.8 billion 2019 Kwara budget.
At a news conference on Tuesday in Ilorin, the CSOs under the aegis of the Budget Committee of the Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Project, described the amount allocated to agriculture as paltry.
The group said that agriculture remains the most viable vehicle for economic transformation in a place like Kwara.
It, however, expressed worry that the budgetary allocation to the sector was not in tune with the national and international benchmark in the last six years.
“It could be recalled that Agriculture was allocated a paltry 1.38 per cent of the state total budget in 2014, it was reduced to 1.29 per cent in 2015, 0.40 per cent in 2016 and 0.43 per cent in 2017.
“While the state government was applauded for the marginal increase to 2.92 per cent in 2018, it is strikingly appalling to see an outrageous reduction in percentage of budget allocated to 0.44 per cent in 2019, ” the group said.
It also lamented that women farmers have never been a priority to the state going by the consistent paltry and ambiguous allocation to the budget line.
“For instance, a paltry allocation of N1.3 million was made to this budget line in the 2018 budget, while a ridiculous N700, 000 was provided in the 2019 budget.
“This is saddening considering the strategic roles played by women farmers in the overall agriculture value chain,” said the CSOs.
The coalition, however, recommended that government should uphold the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) popularly known as Maputo Declaration and Malabo Commitment which stipulates 10 per cent minimum allocation of annual budget to agriculture sector.
The group also advocated for credit and loan facilities for farmers especially smallholder women farmers in the annual budget.
“We recommend that the budget line should clearly spell out the location and beneficiaries of credit facilities for easy monitoring.
“We reiterate our demand on the need to include CSOs and farmers in the monitoring and evaluation process on the implementation of the ministry’s projects and programmes.
“There is need for regular training and retraining of extension workers and increased funding of extension service department to strengthen their capacity.
“Smallholder farmers play major role in the Agric value chain. Therefore, there is need for more opportunities that will enable them to actively participate in prioritising agriculture initiatives that will be funded through budgetary allocation,” it submitted.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition of CSOs include Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), Welfare for Children and Teenagers Initiative (WECTIN) and Community Need Care Development Initiative (CONCED).
Others are Save the Future of Children Initiative (SAFIN), Fulfilling Dreams Foundation (FDF), Organisation for the Sustenance of Nigeria Environment (OSNE), FEMCOM and the Meadow Community Development Outreach (MCDI).
The Budget Committee of the Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Project is sponsored by the Actionaid Nigeria.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the reaction of Mr Anu Ibiwoye, Special Adviser to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed on Agriculture, on the issue proved abortive as he failed to pick calls or respond to the sent messages on his phone.https://nnn.ng/csos-deplore-drop-in-budgetary-allocation-to-agriculture-in-kwara/